Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Gastrique Genesis

I like to cook. As a human being, I happen to like–and need–to eat.

Eating is transient. The written word is for evermore. Thus eating must be documented to prevent rapid fading (Hockett's 13 design features of language). With camera in hand and food allergies in me, I negotiate with nutrition, parrying its stabs and jabs. And usually I win. After all, somebody's got to improvise and substitute in the name of health.

My calling is clear. The cutlery chimes to me: "Julia, go forth and craft a crafty blog of cuisine from A to Z (from Allergy-free to Zoo-free)."

My goals are as follows:
1. Be creative (which implies entertainment).
2. Be food-ive (-ly/-ie/-ful).
3. Be myself (which hopefully implies entertainment).

Let's also remember that I study linguistics. I like words and how they ricochet off one other like rowdy rickshaws rampaging through the roads of Rome (or NYC, à la Seinfeld). Thus I debated whether "The Digest Digest" (capitalization optional) even made any syntactic sense, which it doesn't. Neither does the title of this first post (since "gastrique" is a noun, not an adjective, in English. We'll just let this be a Franglish blog).

Google searches of my web log (as is tradition, "blog" 'tis spelt, though spelt is too glutenous for me) name only gave me some random instances of reduplication (RED), so "The Digest Digest" can sally forth (did you know "sally," as a noun, means "a witty or lively remark; a retort"? Thanks Merriam!) into the free world without a hitch, whereas "Digestion Digest" can have its syntactically orthodox title.

Without further ado (about nothing much), shall we dive into the deep waters of allergy-conscious food? A resounding "Yes!" fills my ears. Or maybe that's just the drone of the steel fan scanning the room. Or maybe it's the cutlery talking to me again. Or maybe I don't care; I'd write this even if the fan and knives said "No."

I made a whole lot of food today, but I'll start with one item. I don't want to blow you away with my epicurean gusto, y'know (y'know is a discourse particle I studied in Penny Eckert's class last month; I feel torn between a jock and a burnout style at the moment since both used y'know in interviews (more RED (almost) right there. Definite parenthetical recursion though!)).

Socca Focaccia (Gluten-free & Carn-free, a.k.a. Vegan)
The inspiration for my recipe comes from this one. I had made stove-top socca griddle cakes before, and I remembered how much I loved them. This pleasant memory spurred me on to see about oven varieties of socca. Usually I consult multiple recipes (& my expert matriarch) for ratios, then I follow my nose and taste buds through the kitchen, adding ingredients to taste, coaxing the food to its finale of palatable perfection.

Ingredients (which, once cooked, will make you greedy for more):
1 cup water
1 cup chickpea (a.k.a. garbanzo bean) flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin, cold-pressed is preferable, but I'd be hard-pressed to demand such a thing)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano (though nothing beats fresh herbs, all my measurements here are for dried)
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt or pink salt, which are tasty, and might be good for you)
Dash of thyme
Dash of cayenne pepper

+ 2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to grease the skillet or pan, which needs to have sides to hold in that oil.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir up all the ingredients listed above in a mixing bowl until it's a nice dough with the olive oil well-incorporated (whether I drink out of a well in an unincorporated area is irrelevant). Put that extra olive oil in your cast iron skillet, pyrex pan, or aluminum tin (something with an edge, but not U2).

When the oven's piping hot, insert the pan with the dough contently resting in a circular shape. It'll turn even more golden (since it's already a gilded marigold when raw) in about 25 minutes.
(So I check around 20 minutes, and if it's not ready 5 minutes later, then wait for 30 minutes.
Time isn't my forte. I like checking on food. Kinda like checking email. A nice endorphin rush:
"I'm addicted to email. My endorphins spike when I get a message. When there are no messages, loneliness and despair overcome me."
"Have you tried sending email to yourself?"
"We don't talk about that."
- Dilbert and Dogbert

Pry that tasty flatbread out with a metal spatula (or a turner? 8th grade Home Ec threw me into the throes of kitchen lingo limbo indefinitely) after it has cooled for 5-10 minutes. Your soon-to-be-devoured cooked-dough should be crispy and browned on the edges. I quartered mine, spread some basil marinara sauce on top, and strategically positioned chopped garlic scapes & fresh basil for optimal nommage.

Now go forth and nom that nommy, toasty bread, converting your tummy's woes into "Hey nonny, nonny!"

(This final photo features lentils with garlic scapes & fresh basil, plain ol' asparagus that sat in the oven for a spell, & baked, sliced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, parsley, cinnamon, all-spice, cloves.)

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